TAMPA, Fla. (AP) – Reche Caldwell, the former University of Florida and NFL receiver, was fatally shot Saturday night in his hometown.
Caldwellâ€™s mother, Deborah, did not return phone messages left by The Associated Press on Sunday, but confirmed her sonâ€™s death to the Tampa Bay Times.
She said police told her they believe her son was ambushed outside his home in a possible robbery attempt.
The New England Patriots and Washington Redskins — two of Caldwellâ€™s stops in the NFL – and his alma mater were among those to tweet condolences to his family, along with former Gators coach Steve Spurrier and former Gators quarterback Rex Grossman.
Spurrier tweeted that Caldwell â€œwas one of the best WRâ€™s in school history and was very instrumental in winning the 2000 SEC Championship.â€
â€œRIP Reche,â€ Grossman wrote. â€œYou were one of my favorite teammates of all time. I will always remember our time at Florida for your unreal talent, infectious humor, and our shared success as a team. You will be missed by all your Gator family.â€
Former Patriots quarterback Tom Brady posted a photo tribute to his Instagram page, with one photo showing Brady and Caldwell in an on-field embrace.
The 41-year-old Caldwell was not named in a police report on the incident per Florida law, but the report said, early in the investigation, the shooting â€œdoes not appear to be a random act.â€
Caldwell was awaiting sentencing this month after pleading guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, along with several other former NFL players. He also served prison time on a 2014 drug charge.
Caldwell was drafted by San Diego in the second round in 2002. He had 152 catches for 1,851 yards and 11 touchdowns in six NFL seasons – four with the Chargers and one each with New England and Washington.
Caldwellâ€™s brother Andre Caldwell also was a Florida and NFL receiver.